Name: Ellie Adair
Life Changing Experience: Tanzania: Children’s Education Adventure, 2012
Where Is She Now: First-year medical student at Bastyr University; studied nutrition at the University of North Dakota
Passions: Nutrition, naturopathic health, travel
The year is 2012. “Call Me Maybe” is everyone’s favorite jam, the first Hunger Games movie is selling out the big screen, and high school junior Ellie Adair is about to leave her home in Bismark, North Dakota and travel across the globe for the first time.
Flash forward to 2019!
Ellie! What have you been up to for the past seven years?
A lot! After my program, I finished high school, then went on to study nutrition at the University of Colorado and Univeristy of North Dakota. Right now I’m in my first year of medical school at Bastyr in Seattle. I’ve done some more travel, and have since been to Belize, Tanzania (again), Iceland, and Vietnam.
What inspired you to seek out an experience abroad in the first place?
I had always dreamed of traveling to Africa; I was craving a meaningful experience in the midst of typical high school life. I was doing a google search for volunteer opportunities in Africa when I stumbled upon GLA. It was the perfect opportunity to travel abroad at the age of sixteen. I was able to convince my parents to let me do it after they spoke with some other families of students who had gone; I used my savings, and signed up!
Was it worth it?
Oh yes, it completely exceeded my expectations! I think that the leadership component and activities were crucial to helping our young minds navigate through the experience of volunteering in a developing country. The adventures on the weekends were magical and I will never forget how I felt during them. The Maasai trip was like traveling back in time and it was special to see the world through their eyes. The safari was also unreal and I hope to do another one someday.
So you returned to Tanzania on your own?
Yes, I did–I wanted to volunteer at the same community. Unfortunately, I had to cut my trip short, but it was great to go back and see it again. I hadn’t had the opportunity to really study abroad in college and it felt safe and familiar in Moshi (Tanzania), and I really felt I had connected with the community there and wanted to keep working with them.
Think fast: your favorite GLA moment?
Wow, that’s a hard one! Obviously all of the excursions were amazing, but the part that has stuck with me is our Mentor groups at night. I remember one night we started talking about some really deep, personal stuff and we were all so much closer for it.
GLA brings you closer to a lot of like-minded people–I get the same vibe here at my school which is one of the reasons I chose to go here. It’s people who want to make a difference in the world, open-minded and caring people.
Would you say that this experience helped to shape who you are today?
Oh, absolutely! It really empowered me, and gave me the confidence and motivation furthering my life. I’ve referred to this experience in every interview since, and people are always excited to hear about it. I think when undertaking something like that when you’re in high school it of course has an immediate impact, but then it sticks with you and affects you at different stages of your life as well.